York student cleared in court of sexually assaulting another student on campus
The alleged assault occurred after a night out in January earlier this year
Thomas Whittaker, a University of York student, has been acquitted of sexually assaulting a fellow student on campus.
The jury came to a unanimous "not guilty" verdict after an hour's deliberation. Thomas, a Chemistry student, had allegedly attacked a female student in her room on university campus in January earlier this year.
The alleged assault occurred following a night out in York. Whittaker claimed to have been led out of the club by the girl, returning to campus by bus where she asked, "My place or yours?" He said in court: "I thought she was joking… I asked if she was being serious? She said 'yes'."
After being led into the student’s room and kissing, he says the girl had said "no" to anything further which Whittaker said he "respected."
Whittaker denied alcohol having affected his actions after drinking the equivalent of 12 shots, denying that it had lowered his self restraint. Accounts of the night portrayed the girl as "frightened," "traumatised" and "really on edge," as well as her asking for security to get involved. A college receptionist commented on seeing the girl “uncontrollably” crying.
Thomas Whittaker was arrested by police later following the incident and was taken in for interviewing, though he declined to answer questions because he was "scared and confused".
Character references read out in court included a tutor from a past sixth form college branding Whittaker as "fabulous" with "exemplary behaviour". Friends also commented he was a “kind” and “polite” individual.
Whittaker was said to have "wept" in the dock of York Crown Court following the jury’s "not guilty" verdict.